Port Orleans Brewing Company
Some breweries begin with a homebrewing kit in a garage. Others start out big. Port Orleans Brewing Company definitely belongs among the latter.
Within four months of the New Orleans-based brewery’s opening in 2017, Port Orleans was running with a 30-barrel system that produced beer for 110 taps. The company’s can line was set up and they were already distributing to local bars and restaurants. If you found yourself driving down Interstate 10 through New Orleans, you’d see billboards with Port Orleans’ logo and tagline, “Brewed Below Sea Level.” Pardon the nautical pun, but from the beginning Port Orleans was intent on making a splash in the brewery community.
The company hired season veterans to run the show. Brian Allen is company president and head brewmaster, and his resumé includes stints opening two other breweries. He also moved to New Orleans to helm the operation. Asked about his first impressions of Louisiana’s brewery community and Port Orleans’ place within it, he was overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s exciting that breweries are opening all over the place,” she says. “I know three or four that are about to open. New Orleans is a food town, and now it’s becoming a beer town, too.”
Asked how he sees Port Orleans fitting in, Allen is pretty straightforward. “Sure, we’re competing,” he says, “but anyone making beer in Louisiana is contributing, and we’re hopefully just raising the bar for everyone.” He says that the team at Port Orleans’ goal is to create a culture around the brewery itself, so that its customers become part of a community the company’s building.
The brewery has certainly started off strong, with a spacious taproom and a restaurant, The Stokehold, that serves a wide range of meals that were designed to be paired with Port Orleans beers. The menu makes it easy for customers, suggesting specific beers for specific dishes.
Those beers include three flagship beers. Riverfront Lager is a slightly peachy, sweet golden lager that tastes great on a hot afternoon spent at Port Orleans’ beer garden. Storyville IPA is a light-bodied IPA with a hoppier flavor. Slack Water Brown Ale is a medium-bodied variety, with flavors of caramel, coffee and chocolate.
Port Orleans has many other beers on tap, including seasonals and more experimental brews. Says Allen, “One of our chefs [at Stokehold] is tied into the local farm-to-table movement. Once a week I’ll ask him what he has that we can use. So we just came out with a blueberry beer. We’ve used peaches…. One day I want to include cucumber in beer, too.”
Stop by Port Orleans’ tasting room to see what’s brewing (open daily except Tuesdays), and stick around for dinner at Stokehold. Free guided tours of the brewery are offered on Saturdays and Sundays at noon and 2 p.m.